English is the basic language of communication in this country and its mastery is necessary for educational progress. Children should develop skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing to enable them to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, and to communicate with others effectively. They will learn to become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama as well as non-fiction and media texts.
The study of English develops children’s ability to listen, speak, read and write for a wide range of purposes, including the communication of their ideas, views and feelings. Children are enabled to express themselves creatively and imaginatively, as they become enthusiastic and critical readers of stories, poetry and drama, as well as of non-fiction and media texts. Children gain an understanding of how language works by looking at its patterns, structures and origins. Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in speaking, reading and writing across a range of different situations and across the curriculum.
English has a pre-eminent place in education and in society. A high-quality education in English will teach pupils to speak and write fluently so that they can communicate their ideas and emotions to others and through their reading and listening, others can communicate with them. Through reading in particular, pupils have a chance to develop culturally, emotionally, intellectually, socially and spiritually. Literature, especially, plays a key role in such development. Reading also enables pupils both to acquire knowledge and to build on what they already know. All the skills of language are essential to participating fully as a member of society; pupils, therefore, who do not learn to speak, read and write fluently and confidently are effectively disenfranchised.
The overarching aim for English in the National Curriculum is to promote high standards of language and literacy by equipping pupils with a strong command of the spoken and written word, and to develop their love of literature through widespread reading for enjoyment. The National Curriculum for English aims to ensure that all pupils:
read easily, fluently and with good understanding;
develop the habit of reading widely and often, for both pleasure and information;
acquire a wide vocabulary, an understanding of grammar and knowledge of linguistic conventions for reading, writing and spoken language;
appreciate our rich and varied literary heritage;
write clearly, accurately and coherently, adapting their language and style in and for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences;
use discussion in order to learn; they should be able to elaborate and explain clearly their understanding and ideas;
are competent in the arts of speaking and listening, making formal presentations, demonstrating to others and participating in debate.
At Walford Nursery & Primary School, through a well-balanced curriculum, all pupils will become confident speakers, listeners, readers and writers and use these language skills for a wide range of purposes. Therefore, at Walford Nursery & Primary School, we will also enable children to:
be competent in the arts of speaking and listening, communicating their understanding and ideas clearly and using discussion in order to learn;
show children how to adapt their speech to a wide range of circumstances and demands;
teach children effective communication, both verbal and non-verbal, through a variety including through drama activities;
secure their phonic knowledge in order to decode words easily and read them aloud fluently and accurately;
explore the content of a range of texts to ensure full understanding of what they have read;
become confident, enthusiastic, independent and reflective readers who develop a habit of reading a variety of texts for both pleasure and information;
develop as reader alone or as a shared experience with adults and peers;
foster and instil the enjoyment of reading, and a recognition of its value;
use their phonetic knowledge to write with accuracy and build quality sentences;
write clearly and coherently, adapting language and style for a range of contexts, purposes and audiences;
write ambitiously and confidently by planning, rehearsing aloud, drafting and editing their writing;
to foster and instil the enjoyment of writing, and a recognition of its value;
develop a secure understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation;
Make fair critical responses about their own work, that of their peers and for a range of writers;
produce clearly formed, concise, legible handwriting and to take pride in the presentation of their work.
What does our English Curriculum look like?
At Walford Nursery & Primary School, we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in our English lessons. Our principal aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills, and understanding. We do this through a daily lesson in which children will experience a whole-class reading, speaking and listening or writing activity that may also include sentence, grammar and word level learning. At Walford Nursery & Primary School we use Jane Considine’s ‘Write Stuff’ and ‘Hooked on Books’ programmes to support this. The children may also experience a guided group or independent activity, and a whole-class session to review, reflect on and evaluate progress and learning. From Year 1, the children will receive a weekly spelling, punctuation and grammar lesson (SPAG) that focuses specifically on developing skills and understanding in this area known as Grammar Hammer. The children develop their oral language skills and imagination through ‘experience days’ and ‘initiate chunks’ in sentence stacking lessons. They have the opportunity to experience a wide range of texts, and to support their work with a variety of resources, such as dictionaries and thesauruses.
Children use Computing in English lessons where it enhances their learning, as in drafting their work and in using multimedia to study how words and images are combined to convey meaning. English is encouraged and developed across our curriculum and links are made where appropriate. We encourage children to use and apply their English learning in other areas of the curriculum.
Please refer to:
our Long Term Plan, which demonstrates the progression of knowledge and skills within the whole school English offer;
our Medium Term Plan for each year group, which maps teaching and learning, knowledge and skills through a topic;
our Short Term Plan for each year group, which follows pre-prepared Write Stuff units;
our Curriculum Map, which details each year group / subject.
We carry out the curriculum planning in two phases (long and medium-term).
Long Term Planning: The National Curriculum for English (2014) details what we teach in the long term. In addition, teachers prepare an overview of the year using a specific yearly calendar format.
Medium Term Planning: Teachers create termly overviews outlining the text-based units they will follow as well as any cross-curricular links, additional texts, independent pieces, spelling and handwriting links.
Short Term Planning: Where teachers are following pre-prepared Write Stuff units, annotations are made on paper-based units. If teachers create their own Write Stuff units, Jane Considine’s planning tool is used to map out lessons.
To then ensure that there is a range of genres and a good pace of learning, the English subject coordinator builds a picture as the year progresses to establish an overview of the units and details of the main teaching units.
The Write Stuff:
In EYFS and Year 1, children access regular RWI sessions alongside a range of Write Stuff models for early writing including ‘Picture Power’ encouraging them to ‘catch’ new vocabulary and begin to articulate sentences both orally and in writing. Children who have completed the RWI programme access Write Stuff units.
Children then have the opportunity produce related independent pieces and following the unit children plan, prepare and edit a final piece of independent writing. Children are assessed on national curriculum/ EYFS objectives for their year group. Classes complete at least one Write Stuff unit a term and interject other writing stimuli, independent pieces and cross curricular opportunities in the remaining lessons. Over the year, they cover a range of genres and make cross-curricular links where possible.
Lower attaining writers feel completely supported every step of the way with this process and the small chunks enable them to have absolute clarity around expectations at any point in the sequence.
The expectations are made transparent through a sentence focus. If, at any point, individuals or groups are unsure (or need extra support with sentence building), words, phrases and clauses can be provided – in envelopes or on word cards/strips – to give pupils banks of ideas. These banks are tailored to specific sentence points.
We deploy classroom assistants to support children, and to enable work to be matched to the needs of individuals.
The highest attaining writers have a chance to excel using this model. Within a learning chunk, they will initially be required to follow the writing rule of the sentence, but after that they will be able to write extra, as long as they stay within the narrative plot point. Training pupils to write ‘deepening the moment’ sentences for the chronological part of the story that is the focus of the session will sharpen their expertise at staying on the point. This enables the unit to remain cohesive form lesson to lesson. It means that when a new lesson begins, everyone is in the same place and the class can pick up the story from where they left off. We discourage higher attaining writers from simply writing more. It is helpful instead to provide challenges at sentence-stacking points, so pupils can reflect back on previous skills learned in English lessons or include vocabulary for specific effects.
We follow Penpals Handwriting Programme from Reception to Year 6, which teaches children actively through frequent, discrete lessons. We believe that developing the necessary fine and gross motor skills in readiness for handwriting is vital to setting children on the right path and that warming up for handwriting is equally important for older children.
The National Curriculum (2014) outlines the continuity and progression of spelling for Key Stage 1 and 2. From Year 2 to Year 6, we use Read Write Inc. Spelling. This programme teachers spelling cumulatively and systematically with deliberate, focused practice. It builds upon the teaching strategies from Read Write Inc. Phonics.
Children from Year 2 to Year 6 have a daily Spelling session which lasts 15 minutes and addresses the requirements of the National Curriculum. They are taught to spell new words correctly, with lots of opportunities to practise, including exception words and homophones. Children are encouraged to spell words as accurately as possible, using their phonic knowledge, as well as their understanding of morphology and etymology. The programme also supports children in understanding and applying concepts of word structure to spell words that they have not yet been taught by using what they have learnt about the English language.
Spellings are brought into the rest of the curriculum where possible including in reading to maximise learning opportunities and embed the theory into practice, using it in a range of contexts.
Common Exception Words
From Year 1 to Year 6, children learn to write common exception words related to their year group. These are monitored termly, and support is put in place for those falling behind the termly expectation.
Our English curriculum facilitates sequential learning and long-term progression of knowledge and skills. Teaching and learning methods provide regular opportunities to recap acquired knowledge through high quality questioning, discussion, modelling and explaining to aid retrieval at the beginning and end of a lesson or unit. Regular practice of skills will provide children with the confidence to apply these in a range of independent situations whereby they have the chance to show what they have internalised. The range of reading and writing situations we provide will enable all children to alter their long-term memory and knowledge more, remember more and be able to do more as readers and writers.